Expect Lawlessness When the Police Act Lawlessly
While the Sioux Falls Police Department chases chimeras that allegedly assault their officers in city parks, in many other police departments across the nation, law enforcement has seemingly declared war on the citizens they are supposed to protect.
Since the federal government doesn’t keep statistics on how many unarmed people are killed each year by law enforcement, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive number.
Gawker Media quotes a NAACP study that says at least 76 unarmed people of color have been killed by law enforcement between 1999 and 2014. Another study puts the number of people killed by law enforcement for all reasons—justified or unjustified—at 627 killed in 2014 and 156 killed so far this year. USA Today reports that the number of civilians killed by law enforcement is about 400 per year.
Meanwhile, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund says 117 law officers died in the line of duty.
Whatever the numbers, they are too many. Too many civilians, too many cops dead.
It’s easy to say the cops have a tough job. They do. But their first job is to protect society and not their blue brotherhood. And our Founding Fathers knew that the power of the state—which is typically exercised through the police—must be checked.
Hence, we have the Bill of Rights, and in particular, the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to make sure our rights—not the governments’, not the cops’—are fully protected in the criminal justice system.
When the cops act lawlessly as they have in Ferguson, North Charleston, New York, Baltimore and elsewhere, should it then come as a surprise that others act lawlessly too?
None other than Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace work for justice.” Unfortunately, America is caught in the reverse: when there is no justice there is no peace. That’s why people are mad in Baltimore this week. Perhaps the cops should think of that before they shoot the next fleeing unarmed black man in the back or throw them into the back of a paddy wagon.